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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gifted From Farmhouses of Old

As a young girl, I spent many weekends on my grandparent's farms.  My dad's home farm was 15 minutes east of our house. My mom's home farm was 45 minutes west. Often, we would spend Saturday on one farm and Sunday on the next.

My dad's family had 8 boys born into their family and 4 girls (one of which lived but a short while after birth).  All of these siblings left the farm for other occupations, although one of my aunts did marry back into the farming lifestyle, and one of my uncles bought the farm house to live in with his family when my grandparents moved into town.

My mom's family had 2 boys and 3 girls born into the family. Both boys continue to farm the fields around the homeland, with their houses just a brisk walk from the farm house, which is now being rented.

As I mentioned, my growing up years were filled with memories on my grandparents' farms, the common meeting place for the brothers and sisters, as well as my many cousins (which number near 50 now, not counting spouses and the next generation).

Our days were simple.  Looking for long lost golf balls that young farm boys had hit into the field so many years before we came along, blowing bubbles that floated into the summer sky, water fights to wash away the summer heat, peaceful walks to gaze at growing gardens, sitting on the porch and calling dibs on passing cars when days were lazy, football games when fall called for activity, and cold winter evenings of popping popcorn on the stove, playing with the few simple toys in the closet, card games around the kitchen tables, and the occasional sled ride pulled behind a tractor.

Life was simple and times were peaceful on the farm.  For us at least, who didn't carry the burdens of the farm.

As I became older, I grew to know more and more of the struggles of life on the farm through stories told and memories shared, both from my grandparents and from their children.

I know that struggles can either tear families apart or bind families together.  I am thankful that I have been blessed to see many ways that my aunts and uncles have been bonded together.

Not only were there strong bonds built in their individual families, but there were bonds built between the two sides of my extended family, who both understood the joys and struggles of farming life.  It wasn't uncommon for holiday gatherings to include both sides of my family. 

I remember one Easter in particular, that I looked around the room and greeted my grandparents: "Hi Grandma, Hi Grandma, Hi Grandma (my great grandma), Hi Grandpa, Hi Grandpa."

It was rightly pointed out to me how blessed I was. 

As the years went by, families started spreading out more and more.

And as years continued to wander off, so did the strength of my grandparents, which kept them from those large family gatherings. 

But those bonds remained.

A few years before my maternal grandmother passed away, she told me that she wanted me to have a beaded Christmas tree that my paternal grandmother had made for her.  I told her to write my name on the back of it, and when she was done enjoying it, I would be honored to have it.

I remember the days when my paternal grandmother was making these trees. I was in younger elementary and can still picture her farmhouse dining room table filled with trays of brightly colored beads and costume jewelry gathered from garage sales.  My grandma loving crafted a tree for each of her children, as well as others whom she loved, with beads and charms picked out just for them, just as she carefully crafted her love towards her friends and family through her faith.

The tree that my paternal grandma gifted my maternal grandma includes an A in the middle for Anna Alice, her name.  She also included a K in the bottom corner.  K for Kies, the name I grew up with.  It includes butterflies, flowers, and reminders of my grandma Anna Alice's sprawling flower garden on their homestead, which she so diligently took care of, and which I strolled by along side her on each visit as she showed me the changing colors of each season as the years continued to wander by.

This tree now hangs in my farmhouse dining room at Christmas.

A reminder of my grandparents.

Of bonds formed.

Bonds formed by two families who didn't raise their families together, but who both raised their farm families through times of joys and times of struggles, of which there were many.

This tree from farmhouses of old glimmers memories of joy during each Christmas season and flickers encouragement of perseverance, played out through faith in the One who sustains, when struggles come.

I can't think of a more fitting gift from my Grandma Anna Alice, as well as from my Grandma Kies.

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2 comments:

Beth Kies said...

What a beautiful post Becca! It brought back tons of memories for me!

KIM JACKSON said...

WoW! I feel like I grew up there! what a great heartfelt post! What a treasure! I think I lost all of my 'hand-me-down' Christmas decorations when our basement flooded 10 years ago.

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